by Lib Dem team on 1 September, 2015
Cheadle’s Conservative MP has claimed that closing courts will “provide better access to justice”.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Mary Robinson said
After these changes, over 95 per cent of people will still be able to reach their required court within an hour by car and those people living in Cheadle and Stockport can reach Manchester in 15 minutes by train and 45 minutes by bus.
We can only provide better access to justice if we take difficult decisions to reduce the cost of courts and reinvest the savings in a modernised service.
We don’t know whether she realises that Cheadle doesn’t have a train station, but it might be worth Mary doing what the Lib Dem team have done and take some time to understand what happens at Stockport’s Magistrates’ Court.
If Stockport’s court closes, the family court closes. The youth court closes. Tribunals close. The county court closes. The adult magistrates court closes. The problem solving court closes. Police will have to spend more time ferrying defendants around Greater Manchester and many other people will have to spend a lot more time and money travelling.
People who would have come to the Stockport court will have to travel to Manchester or – in many cases – to Crewe. Both journeys take a lot longer and cost a lot more. (Contrary to Mary Robinson’s view, the Manchester court is not right next to Piccadilly Station and it takes a lot more than 15 minutes to get there).
In fact, nearly a third of magistrates (who are all volunteers) have said they will stand down instead of facing the extra commute.
The plan to close the Stockport courts is short-term and short-sighted. There’s a good chance it won’t even save any money. The Problem Solving Court already saves over £150,000 a year by avoiding people going to full court hearings.
Mary Robinson, our Conservative MP, might think this is all fine. She might think that closing courts will “provide better access to justice”. We do not. The Stockport Bench does not. If you agree with us and with the Stockport magistrates, please show your support by signing our petition opposing the court closure and cuts to police funding.